By Cole Cooper
I recently asked two adults who are older than me about important lessons that they had learned as they grew up. They answered together, and the answer that they gave surprised me. They said that they learned to hold opinions and beliefs with less certainty as they aged. When I asked them how this transition had occurred, their explanation went something like this:
When you are young, you know very little about anything. Ironically, this makes it possible to feel a high degree of confidence about important matters. Think about looking out at that tree line way across the yard at the start of the forest. From this distance, it is hard to tell what sorts of trees are in the forest or to make out whether any other plants grow around or on them. This obfuscation of detail makes it easy for you to feel confident that you know what sorts of things are in the forest because disconfirming evidence is obscured. As you learn more, though, you might find evidence that was invisible from a distance and appears to disconfirm your views. Your confidence in your belief about the makeup of the forest might be shaken because you would be forced to recognize that the forest is more complex than you first thought. As you grow up and gain a greater understanding of the world, you find it to be more difficult for you to have confidence in your beliefs in a similar way; experience often provides evidence that complicates or contradicts your simple original view.
Though the speaker was not applying this analogy to questions of faith, it reminded me of my own confusion at discovering that, much to my chagrin, all of the evidence that I had been assuming would stack up in favor of my own faith didn’t always do so as neatly as I would have liked. Ancient Hebrew and Greek manuscripts can disagree or contain only partial fragments. People can do crazy or hurtful things while declaring Christ’s name, and leaders in the faith can turn out to let down everyone who looks up to them.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of pieces of confirming evidence too. Most people don’t die for something that they know to be a lie. The Bible has, as we learned in Dr. Fullilove’s class, sometimes been proven to be correct about historical details that scholars had argued against for years, and personal experience reveals the rich gift of a relationship with God. But there are difficult questions that can linger. Thankfully, this program has been a great place to ask and have answered some of those questions.
To illustrate how, I’d like to describe class with Dr. Fullilove a couple of weeks ago. During the first two-thirds of class we learned that, after many years of scholars dismissing the historical existence of the Biblical character of Belshazzar in Daniel, new archeological evidence affirmed it and made sense of Daniel’s position as the third highest ruler in the kingdom in Daniel 5:29. After that, the last third of the class was spent introducing an overview of the construction of the Bible covering both why text was included and why text was left out.
Furthermore, the Capital Fellows program has provided unique access to experts who have studied the Bible in its original languages for years. Returning to the borrowed forest analogy, it would be like having an expert arborist by your side to explain the proper construction of a forest when you first discovered that one was more intricate than you initially thought. These experts, in addition to directly answering some of the fellows’ questions, have also trained us to be better equipped to seek out the answers on our own. They have even encouraged us to engage in this search. As one such expert told us, “When I’ve really looked into my questions, enough of them have been answered favorably that I can live with the rest.” This program has provided a great opportunity for us fellows to look into some of our questions, and at least so far, the answers have been uniformly favorable.
Picture from the Week
A few fellows explore the University of Virginia in Charlottesville
Become A Capital Fellow in 2021-22
We are now receiving applications for Season 15 of the Capital Fellows program!
We are specifically looking for fellows interested in working in church ministry. We have two specific jobs available, one on the worship team and one with the children's ministry teams. These are special Capital Fellows opportunities because McLean Presbyterian not only pays your salary, but also pays your Capital Fellows program fees!!
The next program year runs from late August 2021 through mid-May 2022. If you are a college senior or recent college graduate - or know someone that is - we would love to hear from you!
Pray for the Capital Fellows
Thank you for praying for the Capital Fellows each week!
While the Capital Fellows season is designed to be inspirational and and a time of equipping, it is also a time to go deep. We want fellows to bring their real questions from real life, so we can look at them together in light of the Gospel. This can be really hard work and unsettling as fellows confront ideas that don't align with Scripture. Please continue to pray for the fellows as they go deep with the Lord during this season...and as they form the habits of spiritual inquiry that will last a lifetime.
Want to pray for the Capital Fellows throughout the year? Download this handy prayer guide for your phone or tablet.
Benefits of The Fellows Initiative
You probably already know that Capital Fellows is one of 30 fellows programs in The Fellows Initiative network. But, did you know that the sponsors of TFI offer great benefits to Capital Fellows alumni? For example, Reformed Theological Seminary offers a 33% tuition discount for 5 years. You can learn more about TFI's sponsors by clicking here. TFI is also sponsored by The Budd Group, the Gordon College Master of Financial Analysis Program, and Regent College in Vancouver.
If you know of a graduate school, seminary, employer, or other organization that would be interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact TFI by clicking here. Thanks!
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